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National programme will help EDs fight violence with data

6 March 2024

A national programme aimed at standardising the data gather by Emergency Departments (EDs) to help tackle violence, and reduce people needing to attend A&Es, has been launched.

‘Information Sharing to Tackle Violence (ISTV)’ will be familiar to those working in EDs. It is the system by which information about violent incidents is recorded, the anonymised data is then shared with other agencies including community safety partnership teams.

The aim is to build a more accurate picture of where and when violent incidents occur as it is known that many acts of violence go unreported and undocumented.

This will help the targeting of resourcing and in reducing the number of violent incidents and the number of people seeking emergency medical treatment for their injuries.

The programme has at its heart a new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for ED staff – which will help ensure consistency in the way data is collected across the country.

The SOP is accompanied by a series of short films aimed at those working in the ED responsible for collecting and recording data, along with FAQs and a quick reference guide explaining how ISTV information should be collected, and how it can be used to prevent future violence-related injuries.

The reinvigorated ISTV programme was launched today (6 March 2024) at a special event hosted by RCEM in London, attended by an audience of clinicians and violence prevention specialists.

Dr Adrian Boyle, President of RCEM, said: “This initiative is about making communities safer places to live and work. Violent injury is not inevitable and emergency medicine clinicians and staff have an important part to play.

“There are improvements to be made and this programme aims to reinvigorate what we know works. Regular, efficient data recording, reporting and clinical advocacy can result in substantially fewer people with intentional injuries attending the emergency department.

“The more departments that get on board with ISTV, the greater the impact – which will ultimately help reduce violence.”

Policing Minister, Chris Philp said:

“Violence Reduction Units are a key part of our plan to tackle serious violence and data from emergency departments plays a crucial role in targeting the right areas for intervention. That is why we have funded the RCEM to deliver this important programme of work.

“With better access to data, this will support our VRUs in identifying the right areas at the right time to stop serious violence in its tracks.

“Through VRUs and Grip hotspot policing we have already prevented an estimated 3,220 hospital admissions from violent injury and increasing the accuracy of the ISTV data sets will help us continue our efforts.

Almost three-quarters of violence-related injury is not reported to police, but these patients are often seen in EDs.

Information collated can help determine the scale and nature of serious violence injury, particularly when it comes to knife crime and gang-related assaults.

Recording details such as time and geographic location of where violence occurs can help community partnership teams, police and local authorities identify hotspots for anti-social behaviour so that increased security and community safety can be put in place.

ISTV is sponsored by the Home Office and supported by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), the professional body responsible for setting and monitoring standards of care in emergency departments.

ISTV relies on information that is already routinely collected in EDs. A consistent approach will go a long way to make communities safer and ease pressure on EDs.

More on ISTV be found on RCEM’s website.

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